I've got a full suspension XC/AM 29er mountain bike (Gary Fisher Hi-Fi Pro). I'm running a size small frame with an 80mm stem with about 7 degree rise. Bike seems like a good fit for me. I do run the seat a touch lower than optimal for more room to move on sketchy sections (no dropper post) but still not so much that my legs scream on flats and climbs.

However on a lot of climbs, even ones that are not super steep, my front wheel seems to pop up quite a bit. This makes me have to foot down unexpectedly when the climbs are rooty or rocky. I try to get as close to the bars as possible when I'm digging hard, but I feel like something might be better done with bike fit than bike english.

What should I try to set up the bike to avoid this? I switched from a slightly longer 90mm stem due to the feeling I was going to OTB on sketchy terrain, so I don't want to play with lengthening the stem much.

Things I considered:

  • Raising seat (would require a $$$ dropper since I'll need to lower it for sketchy sections).
  • lowering stem (I've got about 20mm of spacers to work with below the stem)
  • Flipping the stem (not sure what this will do to handling on steep descents)

    What's going to be the most effective way to change the setup to avoid or reduce the lifting effect?

  • 11
    • Uh, come out of the saddle?
      – paparazzo
      Sep 8, 2015 at 22:22
    • Sounds to me like a suspension problem. Sep 8, 2015 at 23:42
    • @Frisbee - This is often grinding up not so difficult climbs. I also feel like I'm toppling backwards going up steep grades when out of the saddle.
      – Benzo
      Sep 9, 2015 at 0:57
    • @Daniel R Hicks - Suspension was recently serviced by fox and dialed in for me by a fox mechanic at an MTB event. It's tuned for my weight and I keep it at the same pressure regularly. Though, mightwant to check out the rebound settings?
      – Benzo
      Sep 9, 2015 at 0:58
    • Keep in mind that, to some extent, this is exactly what your suspension is supposed to do. Sep 9, 2015 at 1:02

    2 Answers 2


    I had the same problem on a regular non-suspension bike on the road, if the slope is steep enough. The main cause is technique, and its exacerbated by your suspensions.

    As you push down on the leading pedal the bike wants to rotate the other way, like you're lifting the handlebars and pulling a wheelie. Your suspension is probably acting as an amplifier for this.

    This leads to decreased traction on the front wheel, so turning becomes interesting.

    Main Solution is to pedal more steadily in a circle, rather than stomping down on the foremost pedal. To a lesser extent, you can also:

    • Lock out the front suspension, or dial it down a bit in bounciness.
    • Move your body weight forward on the saddle, or get off the saddle completely.
    • Remove weighty things from the rear of the bike - I found moving my full water bottle to the forward bottle cage had a noticeable impact. Consider moving toolkits etc.

    As Criggie says this is all about technique. You are trying to counter balance keeping weight over the rear wheel so you can maintain traction and weight over the front of the bike to maintain steering control.

    The main technique you want to use is the Chest to Nose technique where you move forward on the saddle while at the same time leaning forward over the front bars.

    MTBtips has a short video on youtube demonstrating this.

    This is not the most comfortable riding position on the bike but if you combine this with spinning up those hills instead of stomping up them as Criggie suggests you'll find your climbing will improve quite a bit.

    One other suggestion: When you are out on a ride and there are any more experienced rider arounds, especially any who race, ask one of them to give you a quick critique of your riding. They may be able to point out additional areas of improvement in your riding technique.

    • Good point. I wonder if OP would benefit from cleats ?
      – Criggie
      Sep 9, 2015 at 2:22
    • Using SPD cleats currently.
      – Benzo
      Sep 9, 2015 at 4:35

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